Maker Stories from MENA: Startups Ready to Help Drive Economic Growth
Across virtually any economy, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are crucial contributors. Whether it’s job creation, new business growth or productivity improvement — statistics consistently show that whenever you want good growth, a great place to start is with SMEs.
When looking more closely at SMEs in the manufacturing sector, their crucial role is even more pronounced. That’s because SME manufacturers generally account for more than 98% of manufacturing firms in almost all economies, meaning they do most of the heavy lifting within almost any nation’s industrial supply chain.
This is certainly the case here in the Middle East and North Africa, and a key reason why SMEs — and particularly those in manufacturing — are increasingly a part of national economic development strategies.
The good news for regional growth is that countless SMEs, entrepreneurs and startup companies in the region are developing and harnessing technologies, software and hardware to create services and products that will help generate jobs, GDP growth, exportable innovation and a robust local and regional industrial supply chain.
NOMADD Desert Solar Solution, a Saudi startup, is developing a solution to address one of the biggest challenges facing solar power in the Gulf region — accumulated sand and dust on panels. It’s crucial to find a solution, since this debris can dramatically reduce power generation, undoing the huge advantage of countless sun filled days. The simple NOMADD solution efficiently and remotely removes sand and dust from solar panels without using water, and using only four moving parts.
An Egyptian company called Integreight has designed and built a product called 1Sheeld, which turns smartphones into an interface for Arduino — a tool for making computers that can sense and control more of the physical world than your desktop computer. Think robotics, for example. Using 1Sheeld, people can build their own products using Arduino tools and use their smartphones as controllers.
Another example is this list of eight promising hardware startups developing products ranging from interactive vending machines and augmented-reality point-of-sale technologies to do-it-yourself robot kits for kids.
We can be optimistic, then, that even as the old ways of generating economic growth in the region won’t work in the same way in the future, thousands of entrepreneurs and SMEs are contributing to the economy by filling the gap with innovation and new productivity-enhancing products and services to serve regional and global markets.
Through a range of programs and projects across the region, GE is working to support small and medium enterprises, entrepreneurs and startups operating in key industrial spaces such as oil & gas, power generation and healthcare. More generally, GE works to address the region’s and its partners’ toughest challenges in aviation, healthcare, oil and gas, power and water, and also rail transportation across the Middle East and North Africa.